New Zealand’s capital has had an extra buzz of excitement over the past week since Hollywood director James Cameron and his crew flew in to film the much-anticipated sequel of the epic science-fiction film “Avatar.”

The film is among a handful of productions kicking off in New Zealand as it begins to open up after containing the novel coronavirus, and looks to its film industry to give its battered economy a boost.

New Zealand’s borders remain closed to foreigners but the government gave special permission for the 55 crew members working on the “Avatar” sequel to jet in on a chartered plane.

“Certainly, the fact that we are able to start earlier than some countries is great, much as it’s distressing to see that the pandemic is still such a challenge around the world,” said Annabelle Sheehan, chief executive of the New Zealand Film Commission.

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